The Legal Aid Society, New York County Defender Services, Brooklyn Defender Services, The Bronx Defenders and Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem issued a joint letter following the midterm elections to New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo, New York State Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, and New York State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie on the need for Albany to pass and implement key criminal justice reforms immediately when session convenes early next year.
The letter states:
As you are well aware, New York State’s antiquated and outmoded laws for decades have undermined the presumption of innocence, fueled mass incarceration, allowed intolerable court delays, and caused countless wrongful convictions – all with massively disproportionate impacts on Black and Latinx New Yorkers, immigrants, and other marginalized people. Young people with otherwise bright futures have had their lives needlessly upended by involvement in the criminal legal system. Our prisons and jails have destroyed people and families.
In addition to enacting real bail, discovery, and speedy trial reform, we urge you to take action on other key reforms like ending the torture of prolonged solitary confinement, as the State Assembly did last year; ensuring that every person in prison has a fair and meaningful opportunity for parole release; legalizing marijuana and repairing the harms of prohibition; raising the age of Youthful Offender status in line with the most current research on adolescent brain development; passing legislation to protect immigrants from deportation for misdemeanors; repealing 50-A to increase police transparency and accountability; ending warrantless ICE arrests in and around courthouses; expanding visiting opportunities in state prisons and restoring the free visiting buses; and more.